After leading 28-3 midway through the third quarter, the Atlanta Falcons did not score again as they lost to the New England Patriots 28-34 in overtime. It was the largest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Patriots scored 31 unanswered points after the Falcons last touchdown. Quarterback Tom Brady kept fighting against this fast Falcons defense. They forced Brady to throw his first postseason pick-6 in the first half and sacked Brady five times in the game. Even with the pressure the Falcons applied, they were not able to contain Brady throughout the game. He finished with Super Bowl records with 466 yards passing and 43 completions while adding two touchdowns on his way to Super Bowl MVP.
The Falcons did not have an answer for running back James White. White finished with a Super Bowl record 14 catches for 110 yards and three total touchdowns. The Falcons defense looked out of gas as the Patriots had 93 total plays compared to only 46 from the Falcons.
“Well, I think for sure we ran out of gas some,” said Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn. “I don’t know what time of possession was, I didn’t look at that. But, I can tell you how hard these guys battled for it. We know it was going to come down to the end for sure, and just at the end for them to have the scores back-to-back, that was the difference for sure.”
Offensively, the Falcons failed to get the football to their star players. After running for 71 yards and one touchdown, RB Devonta Freeman only added four more yards in the second half and overtime. All-Pro WR Julio Jones was only targeted four times, but he did manage to haul in those four targets for 87 yards.
For the first time this postseason, the Falcons turned it over. In the third quarter, 2017 NFL MVP Matt Ryan fumbled after getting hit by Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower and was recovered by the Patriots. The fumble set up the Patriots at the Falcons 25 yard line and was capped with a Brady touchdown pass to WR Danny Amendola on five plays.
The Falcons failed to bring their first Vince Lombardi Trophy to Atlanta and will have to try again next season. They played their hearts out, but came up just short. This is a game the Falcons can learn from and build on in the offseason, even after the tough loss.
“We are a tough group,” said Quinn on the lessons his team can learn from the loss. “A loss like tonight, although it’s difficult, I would like to think that this group, we’re putting our stamp and we’re just getting started to be what we can be.”
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